The Power Craze
"How I Got A Bigger Whammy"


The so-called "Power Craze" was, in many ways, a central element of the Relative Difficulties campaign. It was the main source of contention between the two player-GMs, had it's origins in the first Amber sessions and was responsible for an ever-increasing spiral of power amongst the younger generation of Amberites.

In the original sessions there were two advanced shapeshifters, Adam and Syrex. While Adam was always too tired, or not strong enough, or just not capable of pulling off some form or other, Syrex could pull off the same tricks (usually more difficult versions) ludicrously easily. He could become elder Amberites and keep control; he could survive lethal wounds just by shrugging them off; and once he even turned into a full-sized replica of the Courts of Chaos, good enough to fool the inhabitants.

The problem was that John Hunt (the GM) and Glen Elliot (the player of Syrex) worked as a team, even when John was running the game. So Glen could get away with things others could not, and when Glen designed the occasional plot for John to run he even got extra points for solving it!

The explanation for Syrex's uncommon abilities was that he had Exalted Shapeshifting, an ephemeral level above Advanced demonstrated in other powers by several elder Amberites. While some of his "experience points" went into beefing up his shapeshifting power, most of the points that went into it were given 'free of charge' by John, as a kind of explanation in retrospect. This easily made him the most powerful character of the group, especially when everyone else started with new characters in the new campaign.


This set the stage for the Power Craze. However, the Power Craze truly began in Relative Difficulties.

The game was run by two player-GMs who alternated between playing their character and running the game with their character as an NPC. The two individuals in question were David Cooke (Andreas) and Robin Richards (Rylan). It is the opinion of Mr. Cooke and the other players that it was Mr. Richards who can be held responsible for the establishment of the Power Craze as part of the campaign.

During one period in which Mr. Richards was the GM, he appears to have decided that either in the interest of the plot or just for the sake of improving his character, Rylan should receive extra power in Pattern. No one is entirely sure where or how he got the knowledge, but before long he had attained at least a partially Exalted level of Pattern. This happened on a number of occasions; Rylan seemed to spend all his time as an NPC gaining powers he would never have gained as a PC.

As the game progressed, it soon became clear that do discover any clues in his plots a character had to possess some form of power lens, such as those available to one with either basic Logrus or advanced Pattern. A Broken Pattern Adept could use his "damaged" lens to get something, but anyone without any of these abilities was completely incapable of investigating "power signature"-based plot points.

This meant that to be able to solve any of the plot players had to spend their precious advancement points on the new powers or advanced abilities that would enable them to do so, or be left effectively blind and helpless. In many cases this requirement went against the character concept; to learn the advanced abilities (theoretically) required the sort study they would never do. This led to a number of complaints from several players.

On top of this, certain powers and Pattern in particular were apparently only of limited use, in direct contrast to the novels and ADRPG book. Even more complaints were forthcoming.


Another aspect of the Power Craze, directly related to the required attainment of certain powers, was the ease with which the advanced powers were acquired. In the case of Pattern one had to study with Dworkin; in the game this appeared to amount to no more than reading a chapter or two of the Big Bumper Book Of Power every day over breakfast or lunch followed by a simple exam paper at the weekend, usually multiple choice.

Or that is how it seemed, at least. Such study certainly never interfered with attempting to solve plot.

Advanced power was far too easy to get. Everyone had an Exalted power by the end of the campaign; Exalted Trump, Shapeshifting, Pattern, Logrus and even an Exalted Broken Pattern put in an appearance. It would appear that NPCs also had their share of power; but theirs always appeared to be of a different order to everyone else's, though, leading to yet more complaints.


Yet another aspect of the Power Craze was the apparent requirement that everyone have Sorcery, which was completely against the character of the first set of books to begin with, let alone Amberites having it at all. It became THE secondary power to have if you wanted to get anything done. Trumps? No, teleport with Sorcery! Swords? Crossbows? No, blast them with Sorcery! Walk across the room? No, teleport to the door with Sorcery! Open the door using your hand? No, use Sorcery!

OK, it never got quite that bad.

It was needed just for defence against all the Sorcerers, never mind going as far as to actually attack them as well. On top of that while it was known that racked spells needed to be reset regularly it always happened "off camera", as it were, never interfering with any other activities. While that might not be a real problem on most occasions, the danger of being caught off-guard with unready spells never came about, so the need to spend any time resetting spells became all but defunct.

A prime example of that was the Conjuration spell known as Nightguard, used by (naturally) Rylan. This was a spell that summoned a dozen (Named and Numbered) extremely tough and strong warriors to fight for the caster. It took an immense twenty four hours to cast the spell and rack it, which meant that something like three to six hours had to be set aside every day or so to reset the spell. But such worries never materialised for anyone.

Combining all this with the fact that most people enhanced their Sorcery with the Exalted power of their choosing, typically reducing reset times or even removing the need to do it at all, changed Sorcery from a relatively powerful minor power up to the incredible Überpower it became.


The final part of the Power Craze is known as the Searchlight Of Power effect. Simply put this involves beating an opponent by dint of having a more powerful Power Searchlight than your enemy. One merely needs to beam one's Almighty Power at the enemy until they wither away and are defeated. Subtle players had a few complaints with regard to this.


In retrospect none of it should never have been allowed to happen, but that's eagle-eye hindsight for you.